Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wildlife Destination: Colombia

Strangely, many people don't consider Colombia to be a nature or wildlife destination. But the country has amazing natural landscapes, ranging from coast to high Andean peaks, from grassy plains to Amazon rainforest. And there's amazing wildlife, like this tamandua (collared anteater). Ecotourism, if done correctly, could help protect this bounty of life.
Colombia has more bird species than any other country on earth. Almost one out of every five bird species on Earth can be found in Colombia.
Some will look quite familiar to Idaho residents, like this burrowing owl. They're incredibly common on the Llanos grasslands.
Others are very different, like this jabiru stork--another common Llanos resident.
Colombia also has more amphibians than any other country. Watch out for them in the shower.
And also, more butterflies.

Herds of capybaras--the world's largest rodent--roam the grasslands. In other parts of the country, you can see a giant anteater or a puma or even an anaconda.
And then there's the coast: beautiful white sand beaches, blue Caribbean waters, interesting mangrove bays. More people are starting to explore Colombia for birding, snorkeling, wildlife viewing and outdoor sports. The Conservancy believes this can be an opportunity to preserve Colombia's wildlife and wild places. But it can also be a threat. Tourists can harm animals, damage coral reefs, create demand for over-development. That's why the Conservancy is working to develop sustainable tourism standards that benefit both local communities and wildlife.

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